By Philisters Mmbone, Kenya Production Manager
During May and June, we’ve been doing renovations at the Kibera Arts Center. For me, it was a time of learning and reflection.
We did major renovations for the workshop, from laying floor tiles and installing a new roof and ceiling to painting and installing a new electrical wiring system.
We started by doing consultations with the architect, measuring the workshop and buying materials for renovations. When the day to start the renovations came, we were all overwhelmed with all the work that was to be done and also with all the expectations that we had on how the workshop would look.
Kibera Arts Center is one of our main artisans in Kenya and keeping in mind that the workshop is located in Kibera slum, we had to source water to do the renovations.
We were able to build the back wall in the first week though we had some slight problems with the neighbor on land boundaries which were later resolved by the slum chief. In the second week, we started laying the floor tiles and a few weeks later we were done. Installation of the roof and ceiling was our next task to avoid leaking during the rainy season which went well and lastly we did the painting of walls and the repair of the electrical system for the safety of workers at Kibera Arts.
During this project, I felt the book of Nehemiah spoke to me a lot, and his teachings on how best to carry out repairs and rebuilding were of help.
In the first place before undertaking the work at all, Nehemiah prayed unto God. “Unless the Lord builds the house, their labor is but lost that build it.” This was very critical for me -- praying for safety for the workers and also for wisdom to make the right decisions from choosing the right materials to the smallest details such as the right color of paint.
The next thing which Nehemiah did after prayer was to set to work and also set others to work at repairs. Prayer and work must go hand in hand. Working as a team is a blessing and the fact that the artisans at Kibera Arts took part in the renovation has not only built their sense of ownership, but also has given them a sense of pride of being part of the workshop. I am sure they will take good care of it.
On 13th June 2021, we had the inauguration ceremony to dedicate the Kibera Arts Center to the Lord. Also it was a time for thanksgiving and fellowship with the artisans sharing the food stuff my friends and I were able to fundraise and purchase as a token of gratitude for the work they do. The foundation stone was dedicated to the memory of Stephene Adawo Kine. He was the founder of Kibera Arts Center, and Karama is grateful for the partnership he built and the great work he began in Kibera Arts Center.
Some of my reflections during this project:
- Making something new is hard but with patience it all comes to fulfillment in accordance with God's timing. Muscles will ache, the mind will hurt from crunching numbers and gaining new skills and your hands may look like they’ve been through a world war. There’s a lot of second guessing, but in the end the joy and value earned will be worth the wait.
- Proverbs 24:3-4, "Through wisdom a house is built, through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures. We get to choose who builds or renovates our houses and also the materials in accordance to the knowledge we have but the source of all wisdom, knowledge and understanding is God hence the need to make Him the center of our foundation. His wisdom embraces openness and hope, with it comes security and stability."
- Taking care of the facilities God has blessed us with is very important. The condition of a house is a reflection of the people in it.
Renovations bring new beginnings, new energy and a new mindset. It’s my prayer that the Lord will protect the walls and roof of Kibera Arts Center, its doors and its windows through all seasons and keep the workers safe as they enjoy working in their newly remodeled workshop.
To every individual who took part in the renovation either financially through Karama Collection or through prayer, we are humbled and deeply appreciate the support. The Kibera Arts Center artisans are overwhelmed and filled with joy. Asante Sana (thank you)!